That's Verdicchio!

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A leader for whites in Italy's "next" place

Michele Bernetti pauses in the shade of an oak tree overlooking the rippling landscape of the Italian Marche. The hills between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine Mountains are covered with a patchwork of wheat fields, sunflowers, chickpeas and vineyards planted with the area's signature white, Verdicchio.

"Verdicchio is not a trendy variety," says Bernetti, 49, the athletically trim scion of the family that owns the region's leading winery, Umani Ronchi, and the official ambassador for Marche wines at the massive 2015 Expo Milano exhibition. "Also, it is complicated to pronounce."

Verdicchio had its moment of fame in the 1970s, when the Marche (pronounced Mar-kay) produced lots of inexpensive wine sold in glass amphorae and fish-shaped bottles and served in stateside Italian eateries.

In recent decades, the Marche has undergone a quality revolution with the rest of Italy. But today, Verdicchio—with its characteristic unctuous mineral feel, high acidity and a bitter-almond kick—is more popular in Northern Europe and Japan than in the United States, where it has fallen into relative obscurity, a niche wine represented on better Italian wine lists.

"Some people still consider Verdicchio an easy-drinking white wine," says Bernetti. "But it is one of Italy's most important varieties: It has personality, it has character, it has aging potential and it's very Italian."

Though heralded by travel writers for years as "the next Tuscany," the Marche has been slow to gain public recognition outside of Italy....read the full blog at winespectator.com